Saturday night marked the 11th instalment of the Polaris Pro Invitational in Manchester, England. In a historic move, this was the first event the Polaris team had put on in the North of England and also featured its very first all female main event in which Ffion Davies took on Talita Alencar to defend her u55kg Women’s title.
The event as always had some familiar faces with Roger Gracie black belt and Polaris veteran Dan “The Raspberry Ape” Strauss on commentary, MMA referee and Gracie Barra black belt Marc Goddard and MMA Academy Liverpool and UFC alum Jason Tan guest judging.
Prior to the start of the event, we were informed that sadly the Japanese Judoka and Olympic gold medallist Satoshi Ishii was injured and had to pull out of his match against Arya Esfandmaz. The good news however is that the pair are still eager to face off and are looking to rebook their bout for later this year with October being floated as a possible timeframe. We were however still left with a void in the still incredibly stacked main card.
We’ll begin with a quick rundown of the prelim results:
Bout 1: Chris Walsh (Next Gen Liverpool) def. Nathan Jones (Roger Gracie) via Unanimous Decision
Bout 2: Fred Greenall (Inglorious Grapplers) def. Kieran Davern (SBG Tullamore) via heel hook
Bout 3: Yas Wilson (Roger Gracie) def. Kristin Mikkelson (Cro Cop Team) via Unanimous Decision
Bout 4: Tarik Hopstock (Frontline Academy) def. Sean McDonagh (Gracie Barra) via shoulder lock
Bout 5: Adam Adshead (Factory BJJ) def. Enrique Villasenor (Fight Sports) via Unanimous Decision
Bout 6: Marcus Phelan (East Coast Jiu Jitsu) def. Tommi Pulkkanen (Hilti BJJ) via Split Decision
Bout 7: Lloyd Cooper (Goggle BJJ) def. Matty Holmes (Next Generation Liverpool) via heel hook
Bout 8: Jed Hue (RGA Gymbox) def. Nastasa Silviu Georgian (Wave BJJ) via verbal submission due to injury: broken rib.
As you’d expect from an event of Polaris’ calibre, the talent was fantastic even on the prelim bouts. The final bout between Jed Hue and Nastasa Silviu Georgian ended via verbal submission when Silviu Georgian lifted Hue into the air in an effort to escape a triangle into arm bar attempt and subsequently popped a rib. Upon examination by medical officials, Silviu Georgian was deemed unfit to continue. This was a great shock to both competitors after less than one minute into the bout. Both competitors had earned their spots on the card by competing in qualifying matches so to see the bout end so soon was a real blow for everybody in attendance.
On to the main card.
Bout 1: Liam Cann (Scramble Academy Leeds) def. Chris Fishgold (Next Generation Liverpool) via Unanimous Decision
Bout 2: Nick Rodriguez (Renzo Gracie NYC) def. Ben Dyson (Roy Dean) via Unanimous Decision
Bout 3: Tommy Langaker (Wulfing) def. Marcos Tinoco (Marcello Garcia) via Split Decision
Bout 4: Steven Ray (Higher Level MMA) def. Paddy Pimblett (Next Generation Liverpool) via heel hook
Bout 5: Edwin Najmi (Gracie Barra TRB) def. Mansher Khera (Unity BJJ) via Unanimous Decision – Wins Polaris Welterweight Belt
Bout 6: Ffion Davies (East Coast Jiu Jitsu) def. Talita Alencar (Alliance) via Unanimous Decision – Defends Polaris Women’s u55kg Belt
A big point of contention happened during the bout between Fishgold and Cann with multiple time outs being called. Cann attempted an Imanari roll that resulted in Fishgold falling nose first into Cann’s shin, causing the first time out while he was checked over by medical staff. A further time out was called later in the match in order to clean up some of the blood that had begun to leak from Fishgold’s nose. The two biggest points of contention in this bout were due to Cann’s repeated attempts to cover Fishgold’s nose and mouth in a Python choke, and when Fishgold lost his temper and punched the mat claiming that Cann had bitten his hand. This outburst resulted in a warning for Fishgold and a potential warning for Cann due to the aggression on both sides.
Tommy Langaker also caused quite a stir after his victory over Marcos Tinoco. At the conclusion of their lengthy match, Langaker took the opportunity to call out none other than Polaris veteran and former Team Atos standout Keenan Cornelius. Whether or not this matchup does come to fruition remains to be seen but it would certainly be one to watch, particularly with Keenan’s recent split from Atos and his subsequent opening of Legion Academy. How that impacts his game against someone on the level of Langaker definitely piques interest as a possible Polaris headliner in the future.
Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett also met defeat on Saturday at the hands of UFC alum Steven Ray. In a quick match where both competitors came out strong from the offset, Ray quickly managed to secure the heel hook to deal Next Generation their third loss of the evening. Pimblett has been out of competition since his last MMA fight against Soren Bak at Cage Warriors 96 in September 2018. He has been recovering from multiple surgeries on his hand and seems to be looking to ease himself back into MMA and keep active by taking the match against Ray. It’s also worth noting that Pimblett came into the bout slightly overweight due to a seeming misunderstanding of the weight limit.
Mansher Khera lost his Polaris Welterweight belt to Edwin Najmi in an uncharacteristically poor display. Repeatedly pulling guard and remaining relatively passive throughout the entire match, Khera was met with boos from the crowd and seemed to bemuse Najmi as he repeatedly told him to stand up and fight. Najmi was able to convincingly get the win to become the new Welterweight champion whilst Khera gave a rather half hearted post fight interview. He claims that he’s now focussing much more on kickboxing and MMA and that he feels like he’s leaving grappling at the wayside. This honestly seems like a poor excuse for a lacklustre performance but watching the match again, it does seem that Khera’s heart may not be in it anymore.
Finally it was time for the historic main event, it was the very first all female Polaris main event. As Ffion Davies successfully defended her u55kg belt against Talita Alencar, a grappler who had previously bested Davies at EBI 12. Alencar opened with an aggressive collar tie attempt that looked (and sounded) much more like a direct slap to Davies, this would not be the last time this happened however as she was later met with a warning for slapping Davies again. Both competitors showed a lot of heart and aggression throughout the match, however Davies managed to keep top position for much of the contest. Both competitors had to be restarted in the middle of the mats multiple times due to rolling out of bounds in an incredibly dynamic display of technique. In the latter half of the bout, Alencar was also thrown through a section of media personnel before continuing on and seeing the match to the end. The judges scored unanimously for Davies in a well deserved win. Ffion Davies retains her belt and avenges a loss, proving that she has grown as a grappler and a competitor and is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the women’s divisions.
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